Besides maybe your fire shelter and yellows, your boots are your most important piece of equipment as a wildland firefighter. This makes sense considering the countless miles of hiking in rugged terrain you’ll put in wearing them. So, having a pair of comfortable, durable wildland fire boot is crucial. It’s one of the few pieces of equipment you’re responsible for providing, and its important you choose wisely. Luckily, we’re here to guide you in the process.
When it comes to wildland fire boots, not all are created equally. That’s why we tested dozens of the most popular fire boots on the market and combed through hundreds of reviews to give you the best overall fire boot available.
The best wildland firefighting boots
The best wildland firefighting boots
The Whites Smokejumpers provide the best comfort and durability of all available wildland fire boots.
After extensive research and testing we picked the Whites Smokejumper as the best wildland fire boot of 2018. We’re going to get into the nitty gritty of why below, but to sum it up, these boots provide the best balance of durability and comfort of all the boots we tested.
These boots are tough and comfortable. We’ve had pairs of boots we’ve worn all season that still giving us blisters in October. Not so with Whites. Though you may have heard of their notoriously long break-in period, we got them to fit comfortably after about a month of good use. The beauty of an all-leather upper is that the more you use these boots they better they will form to the unique shape of your foot. Couple that with White’s commitment to providing you with the perfect fit and you’ve one hell of a comfortable boot.
- Comfort: 5/5
After the significant break-in period these will be the most comfortable boots you’ll ever own.
- Durability: 4.5/5
It’s not uncommon to hear of owners still using the same pair of Whites for decades. This isn’t so crazy when you consider the boot is re-buildable.
- Price: 3.5/5
While a little more pricey than the other boots on this list, the extra cost is worth it in the long run.
- Weight: 3.5 – 4 lbs/boot (depending on size)
- Height: 10 inches
- Material (upper): Leather
- Outsole: Vibram (rubber)
- Style: Logger
How we picked the best wildland boots
We personally used these boots on the fireline, talked with other firefighters who own them, and read hundreds of online reviews. Start talking to firefighters about their boots and you’ll inevitably hear some strong opinions. That’s why we used a variety of sources to try and reach the most objective wildland boots review possible.
Here are some of reasons we love Whites:
- NFPA approved
- Great ankle support
- Good arch support
- With time boots will form to foot, eliminating hot spots
- Completely re-buildable
- Heat and puncture resistant
- Hand-sewn stitch down construction
The most important aspect of wildland boots is comfort. Like most boots, the Smokejumpers do require a breaking in period before you’ll experience the full level of comfort they are capable of providing. The duration of this break-in period depends on how often you wear the boots and what you’re doing in them, but it took us about a month of good use to break them in. Once we did manage to break these boots in, they were the most comfortable boot we’ve ever tried.
These boots are worth the cost. Many a first year firefighter has learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay to be stingy with your fire boots. Four to five hundred bucks may seem like a lot to pay for a pair of boots, but you’ll be glad you made this investment when you’re hiking an average of ten miles a day lugging around a thirty five pound pack and a dolmar. Trust us, you do not want to be the guy holding up the hike because he has blisters from his cheap boots.
If taken care of properly, these boots can last decades. These boots hearken back to a time when things were built with quality in mind. They’re built to withstand the heat and abuse of a wildfire and, given proper care, can last decades.
If for some reason you do end up having an issue with your Whites, they can be re-built, saving you money in the long run. If you do decide to go with a cheaper pair of boots, not only will you not be doing your feet any favors, but you’ll probably end up spending more money when you have to replace them every year or two.
Keep in mind
Whites have a logger style heel with a relatively high drop. This makes them ideal for hiking uphill, but less ideal going down. Most of the firefighters we talked to felt like this was a good trade-off, but you know you prefer a lower drop in your boot maybe check out the Scarpa Fuegos (which we touch on further down).
Also, when you decide to buy these boots keep in mind they run a little big. For this reason, we recommending buying your Whites a half a size smaller than your regular shoe size.
Opinions on what constitute the best wildland firefighting boot vary widely, but we rank Whites the highest among most factors including comfort, durability, and cost.
How to get your hands on a pair of Whites
You could visit the Whites showroom in Spokane, Washington to have your feet measured. If you’re not close to this location, it’s much easier to buy them through Amazon. If the pair you order doesn’t fit quite right you can always return or exchange them for a different size.
Our second, slightly less-expensive pick
If you prefer a mountaineering style boot to a logger style and want to save a little extra money we recommend the Scarpa Fuego Mountaineering Boot. These are another great set of boots, though they do run a little heavier and hotter than the Whites.
Runner-up for best wildland firefighting boots
The Scarpa Fuegos are a good, durable mountaineering style boot. Though less comfortable than the Whites, they’re also a little less expensive.
That’s it for the best wildland firefighting boot. We hope we’ve helped you make an educated decision. We receive a small affiliate commission if you make a purchase by following the links on this page, so thanks in advance for helping keep the lights on.
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